Over the last two Sundays I preached two sermons on homosexuality, based on Romans 1:26-27. The two messages were really more like one long one spread out over two weeks. The first week was “A Theology of Homosexuality” and the second was “A Christian Attitude Toward Homosexuality.”
Here’s what I learned from preaching on homosexuality:
1. It’s good to preach through books of the Bible. These messages were #4 and #5 of what will likely be a 70-ish week series through Romans. Working through a book raises issues and questions that a preacher would not be inclined to choose. I’m thankful for the process of being forced to address tough texts.
2. People appreciate their pastor tackling tough issues. I had many people tell me they were praying for me and expressing gratitude for tackling the subject. It builds trust for a congregation to know that their pastor will preach what’s in the text, regardless of its popularity.
3. It helps to prepare in advance. I’ve known for months that we’d be preaching Romans and hitting this issue. Having this kind of lead time helped me gather resources, read a lot, and prepare spiritually.
4. If it’s a relevant issue, listeners don’t mind a long sermon. Both of my sermons approached an hour in length, which is much longer than I typically preach. But people were engaged the whole time—mostly because the issue itself is so engaging.
5. There are many good resources on homosexuality. I was encouraged by the number of thoughtful, intelligent, grace-and-truth-filled articles, lectures and books available on the topic (here’s a list of some). There are good exegetical arguments that uphold the traditional view that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is between one man and one woman. This allows Christians to interact with important objections and answer intelligently.
6. There are many bad resources on homosexuality. Numerous people are doing violent gymnastics to the biblical texts about homosexuality (here’s a particularly crafty one). Sadly, many of these arguments are convincing to people who lack biblical discernment or understand biblical interpretation principles.
7. Many Christians have meaningful relationships with people who identify as gay or lesbian. This was so encouraging. I talked to numerous people who told me of a co-worker, family member or neighbor who they love and appreciate. These Christians are not intolerant hate-mongors, but genuine friends who are concerned for those they love.
8. What you say matters and how you say it matters just as much. I’ve heard from multiple people who said they disagreed with what I said about the theology of homosexuality, but appreciated the tone with which I said it. This was greatly encouraging. I think this means that, by God’s grace, I was able to model the very things I was teaching.
9. Ministry to homosexuals is much more about Jesus’ Lordship than sexuality. If Jesus is Lord, then we should submit to whatever he says, no matter how difficult. Therefore, the main issue when it comes to homosexuality, isn’t homosexuality. It’s Lordship. Numerous people I read or listened to who converted to Christ and came out of a homosexual lifestyle emphasized that it was seeing Jesus as a glorious, beautiful, and risen Lord that first drew them to faith in Christ. The theological arguments were important along the way, but they weren’t the most important.
10. Christians must embrace their future as a persecuted minority. Increasingly, those who affirm a Christian perspective on homosexuality will be marginalized, misrepresented, and maligned. Even the most gracious believers will be falsely accused of being hateful and intolerant. That’s OK. Christianity started as a persecuted minority, it is growing today in places where the church is a persecuted minority, and it will flourish in the future as a persecuted minority. American Christians will be wise to accept this reality and continue to sacrificially serve their neighbors, living out grace and truth.
I’m thankful for the many people who prayed for me over these last weeks and who took time to listen, watch and engage with the sermons. We’ll all continue to learn important things as our experiences with our gay and lesbian friends deepen.
What are you learning as you work through your thoughts on this issue?